Immigration and border security still top the list of most important state issues, while federal spending, the national debt and the economy top the list of most important national issues, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
A quarter of Texas registered voters put immigration and border security at the top of their list of problems facing the state, followed by political corruption/leadership, unemployment/jobs and the economy. Education, health care and the water supply rounded out the list, but were all listed as top items by small percentages of Texas voters.
“We have to continue to be amazed at the level of border security and immigration. If they were sports stars, we would have to retire their numbers,” said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
Texans’ list of national concerns continues to be topped by fiscal and political matters: federal spending/national debt, the economy, political corruption/leadership and unemployment/jobs. Issues that have generated a lot of conversation, like health care, partisan gridlock and immigration all registered in the single digits, well behind the top issues.
The item on political corruption/leadership has partisan undertones, Henson said. “At the national level, we find a significant smattering of Republicans interested in political corruption, and at the state level, a smattering of Democrats,” he said. In each case, voters on the outside are registering their displeasure with the party in charge at each level of government.
“That’s just frustration toward government,” said Daron Shaw, who co-directs the poll and is a professor of government at UT-Austin. “I think that’s more about leadership than actual political corruption, although people tend to conflate the two. It’s the idea that if you don’t like the leadership, you think they’re corrupt.
“The specifics don’t really matter — it’s a way to pronounce yourself mad or angry at Washington,” he said. “It’s very Texas in a lot of ways.”
Texans are a lot happier with the direction of the state than the direction of the nation, according to the poll. Only 20 percent said the country is going in the right direction, while 42 percent said the same about the state. Meanwhile, 69 percent think the country is on the wrong track, while 39 percent said the state is on the wrong track.
Nearly half said the national economy is in worse shape than it was a year ago, while only 25 percent said things have improved economically, and another 25 percent said things are about the same. On a personal level, 22 percent said they and their family are better off economically than they were a year ago, while 35 percent said they are worse off. Two in five said their personal economic situation didn’t change over the last 12 months.
About as many people identified with the Republican Party as with the Tea Party: 22 percent said they would vote for a Republican candidate in a congressional race, while 19 percent said they would choose a candidate identified with an organized Tea Party. A Democratic candidate in that race would get 38 percent, while 22 percent said they didn’t know which of the three candidates would get their vote.
A third of the respondents said the Tea Party has too much influence within the Republican Party, but 27 percent said it has too little, and 17 percent said that movement’s influence was about right.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted Oct. 18-27 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. Results among self-identified Republican primary voters carry a margin of error of +/- 5.02 percentage points; among Democratic primary voters, +/- 6.03 percentage points. Numbers in the charts might not add up to 100 percent, because of rounding.
This is one of six stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Also today: how Texans feel about the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday: Ted Cruz and the 2016 race for president. Tomorrow: Texans’ views on immigration.